Home > The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(8)

The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(8)
Author: L.J. Smith

Kaitlyn's mouth opened, but all she could do was stare at him. She was backed against the wall-there was nowhere to escape.

"Back here-this spot?" And then, deftly and unceremoniously, he turned up the skirt of her red dress. Kaitlyn's mind went into shock. She simply had no experience that had prepared her to deal with this situation-a perfect stranger reaching under her dress in a public place. And it was the way he did it; not like a grabby boy at all, but like . . . like ... a doctor examining a patient.

"It's not a cut. Just a knot," the boy said. He wasn't looking at her or the leg, but down the hallway. His fingers were running lightly over the painful area, as if assessing it. They felt dry but warm-unnaturally warm.

"You'll have a bad bruise if you leave it, though. Why don't you hold still and let me see if I can help?"

This, at last, catapulted Kait out of silence.

"Hold still? Hold still for what. . . ?"

He waved a hand. "Be quiet, now-please."

Kaitlyn was stupefied.

"Yes," the boy said, as if to himself. "I think I can help this some. I'll try."

Kaitlyn held still because she was paralyzed. She could feel his fingers on the back of her knee-a terribly intimate place, extremely tender and vulnerable. Kait couldn't remember anyone touching her there, not even her doctor.

Then the touch changed. It became a burning, tingling feeling. Like slow fire. It was almost like pain, but-

Kait gasped. "What are you doing to me? Stop that-what are you doing?"

He spoke in a soft, measured voice, without glancing up. "Channeling energy. Trying."

"I said stop-oh."

"Work with me, now, please. Don't fight me."

Kaitlyn just stared down at the top of his head. His gold-blond hair was unruly, springing in curls and waves.

A strange sensation swept through Kait, flowing up from her knee and through her body, branching out to every blood vessel and capillary. A feeling of refreshment-of renewal. It was like getting a drink of clean, cold water when you were desperately thirsty, or being drenched with delicious icy mist when you were hot. Kaitlyn suddenly felt that until this moment, she had only been half-awake.

The boy was making odd motions now, as if he were brushing lint off the back of her knee. Touch, shake off. Touch, shake off. As if gathering something and then shaking drops of water off his fingers.

Kaitlyn suddenly realized that her pain was completely gone.

"That's it," the boy said cheerfully. "Now if I can just close this off..." He cupped a warm hand around the back of her knee. "There. It shouldn't bruise now."

The boy stood up briskly and brushed off his hands. He was breathing as if he'd just run a race.

Kaitlyn stared at him. She herself felt ready to run a race. She had never felt so refreshed-so alive. At the same time, as she got another glimpse of his face, she thought maybe she ought to sit down.

When he looked back at her, she expected . .. well, she didn't know what. But what she didn't expect was a quick, almost absentminded smile from a boy who was already turning around to leave.

"Sorry about that. Guess I'd better go down and help Joyce with the luggage-before I knock anyone else over." He started down the stairs.

"Wait a minute-who are you? And-"

"Rob." He smiled over his shoulder. "Rob Kessler." He reached the landing, turned, and was gone.

"-and how did you do that?" Kait demanded of empty air.

Rob. Rob Kessler, she thought.

"Hey, Kaitlyn!" It was Lewis's voice from the bedroom. "Are you out there? Hey, Kaitlyn, come quick!"

Kaitlyn hesitated, still looking down the stairs. Then she gathered her self-possession and slowly walked back into the room. Lewis and Anna were in the alcove, looking out the window.

"He's here," Lewis said excitedly, and brought his camera up. "That's got to be him!"

"Who's here?" Kaitlyn asked, hoping no one would look at her too closely. She felt flushed.

"Mr. Zetes," said Lewis. "Joyce said he had a limo."

A black limousine was parked outside the house, one of its rear doors open. A white-haired man stood beside the door, dressed in a greatcoat which Kaitlyn thought must be terribly hot on this Californian afternoon. He had a gold-topped cane-a real gold-topped cane, Kaitlyn thought in fascination.

"Looks like he's brought some friends," Anna said, smiling. Two large black dogs were jumping out of the limo. They started for the bushes but came back at a word from the man and stood on either side of him.

"Cute," Kaitlyn said. "But what's that?" A white van was turning in the driveway. Lettering on its side read department of youth authority.

Lewis brought his camera down, looking awed. "Jeez. That's the California Youth Authority."

"Which is . . . ?"

"It's the last stop. It's where they put the baaaaad boys. The hard-core kids who can't make it at any of the regular juvie places."

Anna's quiet voice said, "You mean it's jail?"

"My dad says it's the place for kids who're on their way to state prison. You know, the murderers and stuff."

"Murderers?" Kait exclaimed. "Well, what's it doing here, then? You don't think . . ." She looked at Anna, who looked back, serenity a bit clouded. Clearly, Anna did think.

They both looked at Lewis, whose almond-shaped eyes were wide.

"I think we'd better get down there," Kaitlyn said.

They hurried downstairs, bursting out onto the wooden porch and trying to look inconspicuous. No one was looking at them, anyway. Mr. Zetes was talking to a khaki-uniformed officer standing by the van.

Kaitlyn could only catch a few words of what was said-"Judge Baldwin's authority" and "CYA ward" and "rehabilitation."

"... your responsibility," the officer finished, and stepped away from the van's door.

A boy came out. Kaitlyn could feel her eyebrows go up.

He was startlingly handsome-but there was a cold wariness in his face and movements. His hair and eyes were dark, but his skin was rather pale. One of the few people in California without a tan, Kaitlyn thought.

"Chiaroscuro," she murmured.

"What?" Lewis whispered.

"It's an art word. It means 'light and shade'-like in a drawing where you only use black and white." As Kaitlyn finished, she suddenly felt herself shiver. There was something strange about this boy, as if-as if-

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